• New USPTO Leadership and Legislative Developments (or Lack Thereof)
  • January 20, 2010 | Authors: Jason R. Kraus; Brian W. Oberst
  • Law Firm: Faegre & Benson LLP - Minneapolis Office
  • David Kappos was confirmed as director of the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on August 7, 2009, and wasted little time in making an impact on the organization. Among his early initiatives, Kappos began several pilot programs designed to expedite patent application examination and encourage serial, rather than parallel, examination of related applications in hopes of reducing the backlog of pending applications.

    While it is too early to assess the impact of these developments at the USPTO, any efforts to reduce time to issuance of patent applications will likely benefit medtech companies, which characteristically view their patent portfolios as key strategic and economic assets.

    In contrast to the changes within the USPTO, patent reform legislation efforts remain largely where they stood five years ago. House and Senate patent reform bills remain in committee while debate focuses on the potential impact proposed changes would have on the patent system and the economy. Medtech industry stakeholders continue to take issue with various aspects of the draft bills, in particular, the proposals for post-grant review and expanded inter-partes reexamination provisions, which many believe will diminish the value of patent portfolios and increase uncertainty with respect to the strength and scope of protection provided by the portfolios.